Venizelos hits back at gripes from PASOK MPs

PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos hit back on Thursday at critics within his party who have suggested that there should be a leadership challenge, labeling them “fifth columnists.”

Venizelos said that the criticism from fellow PASOK members after the party’s center-left Elia alliance garnered just 8 percent of the vote in the European Parliament elections was an effort to “consciously undermine” him.

Four PASOK MPs – Thanos Moraitis, Symeon Kedikoglou, Michalis Kassis and Michalis Karchimakis – have questioned whether Venizelos should continue to lead the party. Moraitis’s comment that PASOK “needs a new leadership, one that can inspire and unite” led to the Socialists issuing a statement accusing the MP of “insulting” the party.

Moraitis rejected this accusation but said that he was not suggesting Venizelos should quit right now but that he should step aside if he is unable to unite the center left in the months to come. Veteran MPs Dimitris Reppas and Costas Skandalidis have also been critical of Venizelos this week.

Venizelos’s allies within the party, such as Afrodite Al Salech, Panayiotis Rigas and Dimitris Karydis, have come out in favor of the PASOK leader, who promised that the party would hold a congress later this year.